St. Plenbn 11T
1e submit meeting this past week be-
ween Jimmy Carter and Jose Lopez Portillo
grabbed most of the headlines, but a hilltop
meetingg at Pappas Restaurant in Tarpon
;prinp may have more direct effects on resi-
ents of the Sunconat.
County commissioner from Pinellas and
'asco gathered to talk about whether in the
pring of 1980 you'll get water when you turn
n your tap.
No great decisions were reached at the
;reek Salad Summit. The commissioners
:ad a constructive exchange of viewpoints, as
!iy say in diplomatic communiques. In my
*ook it was a great success. Any time these
seasoned water warriors start talking instead
f sending their highly paid lawyers to "look
or pressure points," as one water lawyer re-
dinly put it, that's progress.
Tr' COMMISSIONERS did not
grRe .ey should have, to work together
o incrae the water capacity of the West
:ouat Regional Water Supply Authority.
That means time is running out on avoid-
ng a serious water shortage in Pinellas and
Vest Pasco in a little more than a year. Next
Summit: Diplomatic effort over water supplies escalates
spring the demand for county water will be
1.6-million gallons a day more than the sup.
"We're not just talking about sprinkling
bans. It could be worse: water rationing and
building moratoriums," said Gene Heath,
general manager of the authority, which is a
water supply agency set up by the Legisla.
ture for Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough
counties and St. Petersburg aid Tampa.
"We need decision quickly or we'll have
insufficient time to construct facilities to
avoid the shortage," Heath said Friday.
THIS SHORTAGE of supply is imme-
diate. Florida's urban centers also face .a
long-term emergency: steep increases in the
'We're not just talking about sprinkling bans. It could be wdrse:
water rationing and building moratoriums. We need a decision
quickly or we'll have insufficient tinie to construct facilities to
avoid the shortage.'
Gee Heath, of th West Coast Regional Watr Supply Authority
coetofwater. Fear ofsuchincreasesweregen- c rea a prorty right of the w.At -1nd. a
erated by Gov. Bob Graham's appointment aO TIh landowner then has a
of Jake Varn, an attorney for Pasco County' rgtto harvest and sell a "crop" of 1,000
on water matters, as his new secretary of the gallons of water a day from each acre. That's
Department of Environmental Regulation. when water crop means dollars.
As a water attorney, Varn argued for the wa- But that idea is not resolved in Florida.
ter-crop theory, which its opponents think Officials in St. Petersburg and Pinellas are
could be a fancy name for taking dollars away worried tt the Southwet Florid Wter
fro urs in urban Frida. Management District:wnilM regulates pump-
The water-crop theory is used two ways. ng, is inching toward that conclusion in its
Water planners use it as a budgeting tool tate water plan.
so much rainfall over so many acres of land To illustrate the dollars involved, consid-
will allow the safe pumping of so many the present Cypress Creek well field. It
gallons. Tht's a useful and harmless tech- supplies the region with 30-million gallons of
unique. water a day. The water user of Pinellas and
Other part of the theory is that it St. Petersburg purchased 4,900 acres for the
well field. Under the water crop theory, they
would have had to buy the water rights to 30,-
THE ALTERNATIVE to the water-
crop theory also is illustrated by Cypres
Creek. It was developed by the regional au-
thority as a model well field. It is natural
preserve, much like a park. All pumping is
monitored by the latest scientific equipment.
Special attention is paid to sensitive
wetlands in the area. In short, science has
helped the operators of Cypress Creek reach
the balance between supplying water needs
without damage to the environment either in-
side or outside the well field.
It would be robbery to fore water users
to buy water rights unnece rily to another
25,000 acres of land at Cypress Creek.
The Legislature can easily put fears ofwa-
ter crop to rest. In its next session, it should
amend the state law on water regulation to
declare water a state resource. It should pro-
hibit the creation of property rights in water
that belongs to all,the people of Florida.
For that, maybe we need another Pappas